Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system in which an inflammatory attack occurs disrupting the brain or spinal cord’s myelin. Myelin is the fatty layer that surround nerves, providing insulation and allowing for the fast transmission of nerve impulses. When this demyelination occurs there is disruption of the nerve’s electric transmission, which in turn can produce a wide range of symptoms such as visual loss, numbness, weakness and lack of coordination and balance.
Needless to say, a disease like multiple sclerosis can cause significant disability. and this was the case several years ago when no treatment options were available. However, with the introduction of FDA approved therapies, like the interferons and glatiramer acetate, options became available to reduce the number attacks or relapses and thus limit disability.
It used to be that we were only able to treat acute attacks with some success and were unable to reduce the number of attacks or relapses. Now with 6 different FDA-approved therapies for multiple sclerosis, disability can be successfully limited and relapses reduced if treatment is started early in the course of the disease.
The treatment of MS is not only geared towards slowing the progression of the disease but also towards treating some of the secondary or residual symptoms such as spasticity (increased muscle tone), fatigue, pain, bladder incontinence and cognitive impairments.